Ten years ago today I was in Hawaii, on my honeymoon i. David and I used our frequent flyer miles to get there and wedding gift money to pay for the hotel - no youth hostel, to be sure, but nothing lavish. To earn free dinners, we attended a few of those "time-share informational sessions." It was an idyllic honeymoon and as we lounged in bed and hiked the volcanos and swam in the ocean, we vowed that when our ten year anniversary rolled around, we'd return to Kauaii to renew our vows. Only next time, we'd pay for our friends and family to come. And we'd stay at the fancy hotel by the ocean. And we'd skip the time-share sessions because next time, we could pay for our own mahi mahi.
Ten years later and we can't afford an overnight getaway to Long Island. Hell, we can't even spring for the Union Street Holiday Inn. Chances are good we may never see Hawaii again. Not unless I make banks by grooming one of these blondie kids to be the next Macauley Culkin, which I'd do frankly if they weren't so damn intractable. Sure, our ship may come in yet, and sure, I still have years to accumulate the frequent flyers miles necessary for such a voyage, but there's college to pay for now, three times over, and braces. There's day care and skateboards and summer camp. We'll never be so footloose and fancy free again, and nether, certainly, will our bank accounts.
So, no Hawaii anniversary vacation. And much as I would like to be soaking in the sun against a Bali Hai backdrop, thats fine by me. If I cared about stuff like that, really at all, I wouldn't be where I am today, wouldn't have had three kids in a one-bedroom apartment, wouldn't have married a novelist in the tradition of William Faulkner and chosen a career as a writer myself.
What I got for my anniversary was to spend all day and sleep all night next to the love of my life, a man I love more than I did ten years ago when I was hot and he was young and all we did was talk about James Joyce and have sex and make indie movies together. I still thrill to hear his voice when he picks up the phone or walks through the door. And its not just love I have now, but feelings that take time to develop -- respect and admiration and gratitude.
The idea that we would be renewing our vows now, after ten years, re-commiting ourselves to each other like we did on our wedding day seems so, well, redundant. We renew our vows every day - some days louder and more readily than others. Its just like the priest said in his homily on our wedding day, after hearing the Shakespeare sonnet my best friend read aloud: "Let me not to the marriage of true minds admit impediment/ Love is not love which alters when it alteration finds."
"Love alters all the time," Father Greg said, "It is is constantly changing, and it will be shaken. What does not alter - what can not alter -- is the commitment to love. That's what marriage is."
Ten years later and I'm beginning to understand. All I can do is hope that I'll be lucky enough to have another ten years -- and another ten, and another, and another -- to really get it. Today and every day, I'm re-upping, for better or worse, richer or poorer. Hawaii or no Hawaii.